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      Role of the Rhoa/Rho Kinase System in Flow-Related Remodeling of Rat Mesenteric Small Arteries in Vivo

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          In small arteries, a chronic blood flow reduction leads to inward hypotrophic remodeling, while a chronic blood flow elevation induces outward hypertrophic remodeling. The RhoA/Rho kinase system was shown to be modulated by shear stress, and to be involved in other kinds of vascular remodeling. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of RhoA/Rho kinase in flow-related small artery remodeling. Rat mesenteric small arteries were subjected to flow-modifying surgery. After 1, 2, 4, 16, and 32 days, the animals were sacrificed and small arteries were harvested. Messenger RNA was isolated and amplified. Using cDNA microarray analysis, the differential expression of >14,000 genes was analyzed, part of which was confirmed by RT-PCR. In vivo treatment with fasudil (3 mg/kg/day s.c.) was used to test the effect of Rho kinase inhibition. The main findings are that: (1) blood flow alteration modified the expression of approximately 5% of the genes by >2-fold, (2) flow reduction downregulated many RhoA-related cytoskeletal markers of smooth muscle cell phenotype, (3) many RhoA-related genes were rapidly (<1 day) regulated and (4) fasudil treatment potentiated the inward hypotrophic remodeling in response to chronically reduced flow. These results indicate the importance of the RhoA/Rho kinase system in flow-related small artery remodeling.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Activation of integrins in endothelial cells by fluid shear stress mediates Rho-dependent cytoskeletal alignment.

          Fluid shear stress is a critical determinant of vascular remodeling and atherogenesis. Both integrins and the small GTPase Rho are implicated in endothelial cell responses to shear but the mechanisms are poorly understood. We now show that shear stress rapidly stimulates conformational activation of integrin alpha(v)beta3 in bovine aortic endothelial cells, followed by an increase in its binding to extracellular cell matrix (ECM) proteins. The shear-induced new integrin binding to ECM induces a transient inactivation of Rho similar to that seen when suspended cells are plated on ECM proteins. This transient inhibition is necessary for cytoskeletal alignment in the direction of flow. The results therefore define the role of integrins and Rho in a pathway leading to endothelial cell adaptation to flow.
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            A Role for Cdc42 in Macrophage Chemotaxis

            Three members of the Rho family, Cdc42, Rac, and Rho are known to regulate the organization of actin-based cytoskeletal structures. In Bac1.2F5 macrophages, we have shown that Rho regulates cell contraction, whereas Rac and Cdc42 regulate the formation of lamellipodia and filopodia, respectively. We have now tested the roles of Cdc42, Rac, and Rho in colony stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1)–induced macrophage migration and chemotaxis using the Dunn chemotaxis chamber. Microinjection of constitutively activated RhoA, Rac1, or Cdc42 inhibited cell migration, presumably because the cells were unable to polarize significantly in response to CSF-1. Both Rho and Rac were required for CSF-1–induced migration, since migration speed was reduced to background levels in cells injected with C3 transferase, an inhibitor of Rho, or with the dominant-negative Rac mutant, N17Rac1. In contrast, cells injected with the dominant-negative Cdc42 mutant, N17Cdc42, were able to migrate but did not polarize in the direction of the gradient, and chemotaxis towards CSF-1 was abolished. We conclude that Rho and Rac are required for the process of cell migration, whereas Cdc42 is required for cells to respond to a gradient of CSF-1 but is not essential for cell locomotion.
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              Biomechanical activation of vascular endothelium as a determinant of its functional phenotype.

              One of the striking features of vascular endothelium, the single-cell-thick lining of the cardiovascular system, is its phenotypic plasticity. Various pathophysiologic factors, such as cytokines, growth factors, hormones, and metabolic products, can modulate its functional phenotype in health and disease. In addition to these humoral stimuli, endothelial cells respond to their biomechanical environment, although the functional implications of this biomechanical paradigm of activation have not been fully explored. Here we describe a high-throughput genomic analysis of modulation of gene expression observed in cultured human endothelial cells exposed to two well defined biomechanical stimuli-a steady laminar shear stress and a turbulent shear stress of equivalent spatial and temporal average intensity. Comparison of the transcriptional activity of 11,397 unique genes revealed distinctive patterns of up- and down-regulation associated with each type of stimulus. Cluster analyses of transcriptional profiling data were coupled with other molecular and cell biological techniques to examine whether these global patterns of biomechanical activation are translated into distinct functional phenotypes. Confocal immunofluorescence microscopy of structural and contractile proteins revealed the formation of a complex apical cytoskeleton in response to laminar shear stress. Cell cycle analysis documented different effects of laminar and turbulent shear stresses on cell proliferation. Thus, endothelial cells have the capacity to discriminate among specific biomechanical forces and to translate these input stimuli into distinctive phenotypes. The demonstration that hemodynamically derived stimuli can be strong modulators of endothelial gene expression has important implications for our understanding of the mechanisms of vascular homeostasis and atherogenesis.

                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                June 2004
                30 June 2004
                : 41
                : 3
                : 277-290
                aDepartment of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, bBiGCaT Bioinformatics, Department of Biomedical Technology, Technical University of Eindhoven, Eindhoven, and cSchool of Life Sciences, Transnational University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands
                78826 J Vasc Res 2004;41:277–290
                © 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 4, References: 48, Pages: 14
                Research Paper


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